Om Namoh Bhagavate Vasudevaya
avaropya girià skandhät
suparëaù patatäà varaù
yayau jalänta utsåjya
hariëä sa visarjitaù
Garuòa was asked by the Lord to leave that place because the snake Väsuki, who was to be used as the rope for churning, could not go there in the presence of Garuòa. Garuòa, the carrier of Lord Viñëu, is not a vegetarian. He eats big snakes. Väsuki, being a great snake, would be natural food for Garuòa, the chief of birds. Lord Viñëu therefore asked Garuòa to leave so that Väsuki could be brought to churn the ocean with Mandara Mountain, which was to be used as the churning rod. These are the wonderful arrangements of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Nothing takes place by accident. Carrying Mandara Mountain on the back of a bird and putting it in its right position might be difficult for anyone, whether demigod or demon, but for the Supreme Personality of Godhead everything is possible, as shown by this pastime. The Lord had no difficulty lifting the mountain with one hand, and Garuòa, His carrier, carried all the demons and demigods together by the grace of the Supreme Lord. The Lord is known as Yogeçvara, the master of all mystic power, because of His omnipotence. If He likes, He can make anything lighter than cotton or heavier than the universe. Those who do not believe in the activities of the Lord cannot explain how things happen. Using words like “accident,” they take shelter of ideas that are unbelievable. Nothing is accidental. Everything is done by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as the Lord Himself confirms in Bhagavad-gétä (9.10). Mayädhyakñeëa prakåtiù süyate sacaräcaram. Whatever actions and reactions occur within the cosmic manifestation all take place under the superintendence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. However, because the demons do not understand the potency of the Lord, when wonderful things are done, the demons think that they are accidental.
Whatever one’s natural occupational duties maybe within the varnashram system, if one dovetails his propensities for the pleasure of Krsna, that is the perfection of life. Everyone according to their guna and karma,
tattva-vit tu mahä-bäho
guëä guëeñu vartanta
iti matvä na sajjate (Bg 3.28)
One has natural inclinations. Krsna tells Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita, that if you try to suppress or repress your nature. That is not what is necessarily desired. But we should dovetail our natural propensities in the loving service of the Lord.
Garuda, the carrier
Here we reading of the great bird carrier Garuda. Of course, Garuda is not in anyway under the influence of the modes of material nature nor is he in anyway subject to the laws of karma. In fact, it was Garuda who spent long, long years at Badrikashram performing severe tapasya in order to gain the great benediction of being the intimate and personal servant of Lord Narayan. He is the bird carrier. You see in the celestial worlds each of the demigods has a particular carrier. But we find that none of the carriers are like the carriers of this world in 20th. century. Today we have airplanes, we have railways, automobiles, bicycles. They are all yantras – just impersonal machines. But the demigods, when they have a carrier they give the opportunity or the facility for one of the devotees to be allowed such a wonderful and intimate service because the devotees are always wanting to render intimate service and what more intimate service on that level is there than taking ones worship-able deity from place to place, on ones very back. It’s a very menial service. So we find that Lord Ganpati he rides upon a mouse and Lord Kartikeya – he rides upon a peacock. Lord Brahma rides upon a swan, Lord Shankar rides upon Nandeshwar – a bull and Lord Narayan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead rides upon the great eagle carrier Garuda. In this way the Lord is fulfilling the desires of his devotees by accepting this form of service.
The Lord needs nothing Ultimately Lord Narayan does not need a bird carrier. Lord Narayan can transfer himself from one place to another instantly, faster than the speed of mind. If he desires to be in a certain place he will be there because he has achintya shakti, inconceivable potencies. He could also fly himself faster than the speed of mind, but in order to accept this loving exchange of His devotee Garuda, he is allowing him by His causeless mercy to be His carrier. You see a devotee never thinks the Lord needs me. The Lord needs nothing. The Lord is perfect and complete in himself.
Oà pürëam adaù pürëam idaà
pürëät pürëam udacyate
pürëasya pürëam ädäya
pürëam evävaçiñyate (Sri Isopanishad Invocation)
Does the Lord who is perfect and complete, the absolute truth require our help for anything? But because He is a divine person He is the supreme person and His personality is a more inclusive realization that His impersonal or all pervading feature. Therefore in this personal form He finds His greatest bliss or ananda, in loving exchanges with His expansions His parts and parcels – the living entities.
Every living being is pleasure seeking
Anand mayo bhyasat. Every living being is pleasure seeking. There is no spirit soul in any body that is not constantly looking for pleasure. According to the modes of material nature by we are being directed, we are seeking pleasure in different ways. But everyone is seeking pleasure, from Lord Brahma down to the insignificant insect. Why is this?
jéva-bhütaù sanätanaù Bg 15.7
Because we are a part of Krsna, who is satcitananda – eternal, full of knowledge and full of pleasure. Krsna is always seeking pleasure, therefore we are always seeking pleasure. This is because we are qualitatively one with Him.
When Krsna seeks pleasure
But when Sri Krsna seeks pleasure, because He is perfect and complete, He need not seek pleasure outside of Himself. Therefore He expands himself as Srimati Radharani and He seeks pleasure in Himself through His most magnificent expansion Sri Radhika and the loving exchange between Sri Sri Radha Krsna is the supreme manifestation of the Lord’s ananda – satchitananda. Because it is here that both Radha and Krsna, the supreme lover and the supreme beloved are eternally thirsting unlimitedly for pleasure from one another and this loving exchange is the divine lila of the spiritual world. And all the parts and parcels, their supreme pleasure is simply in assisting Krsna in having pleasure with Himself , Sri Sri Radha Rani in the spiritual world. Therefore we find in Goloka Vrindavan that all the residents are simply immersed in giving their hearts to helping Radha and Krsna enjoy together. That is the greatest pleasure of the soul.
Servant of the servant
Those who desire to approach Krsna directly, they are said to have a very distant relationship with Krsna. Sometimes we read of great poets, of great song writers, even many sadhus and saints who sing about their own direct relationship with Krsna. Certainly they might be on a very high transcendental platform but they have a distant relationship with Krsna in comparison to the residents of Vrindavan. Just like if you look at Mount Everest from a great distance away, then it appears there is only one mountain and it appears you are looking at only one mountain. But when you come closer you find that it is not just one mountain but there is one peak but around it are so many other peaks with so many other mountains connected to it and the closer you come you see how many more mountains there actually are that are inseparable from Mount Everest. Then you have to approach Mount Everest through those other lesser peaks. So similarly when we have a distant relationship with Krsna we are thinking it is just Krsna and myself, but when we come closer to Krsna , when we come closer to the conception of Goloka Vrindavan, then we see along with Krsna, Srimati Radharani and alongwith Srimati Radharani are the eight sakhis and along with the 8 sakhis are the many, many manjiris and gopis. And they are all constantly engaged in the loving service of the Lord and the only pleasurable condition of the soul is to simply be the assistant of the assistance of the assistance of the gopis and Sri Radhika in giving pleasure to Sri Krsna. That is the highest conception, the highest perception of the absolute truth.
Devotees’ greatest pleasure
So we are all seeking pleasure because we are all part of the supreme pleasure seekers Radha and Krsna and the devotee seeks pleasure only in that. So therefore the Lord’s greatest pleasure is reciprocating with His various devotees and the devotees’ greatest pleasure is reciprocating with the Lord. So therefore Krsna does not need anything, but He appears to be in need simply to give the opportunity of loving exchange. Krsna does not need to be fed but yet He appears to need to be fed to give mother Yashoda the opportunity to express her love through feeding him. Similarly Krsna does not need to be protected but yet Nand Maharaj is thinking that I am protecting him. Krsna does not need knowledge but yet He goes to the ashram of Sandipani Muni to learn the Vedas although He is the author of the Vedas. Krsna does not need, He does not need anything, but He wants that love of His devotees.
It is natural for Garuda to eat snakes
So therefore the great carrier Garuda is given this most wonderful and special service by the grace of Sri Hari. And being a bird in that particular body – eagle, He is naturally inclined towards eating serpents. As Srila Prabhupada explains in the purport he is not a vegetarian. Now for you or for me to eat serpents or any form of meat products is extremely sinful. Why? It is because the quota for human beings by the law of God is vegetarian food, which is ultimately meant to be offered to Krsna as prasadam. Where as even Garuda, although he may be a very, very great servant of the Lord, there is no need for him to be a vegetarian. It is his quota. So he can be a perfect servant of the Lord and still eat serpents because he’s dovetailing his natural propensities in the service of the Lord. So therefore there is nothing sinful.
phalgüni tatra mahatäà
jévo jévasya jévanam (SB 1.13.47)
One persons food is one persons existence, is meant for the subsistence of another persons existence. Just like we are eating vegetables, we are also killing but because it is our quota if we offer them to Krsna there is no karmic reaction. So for Garuda although he is a very, very great servant of the Lord, for him to eat snakes is his quota. Our conception of what is sinful and what is not sinful is not material. Our conception is: whatever is the arrangement of the Lord, to go against that arrangement that is sinful.
There are certain pacifists who would say that Arjuna was sinful by fighting that war. I have met some priests of other religions. There is one religion, it is in America. They are called the Quakers. They are very, very devout. They are one of the original Christian sects that came to America and many of them, they are total pacifists. They believe that under no condition ever should violence take place. They really to the extent follow this concept of Ahimsa. So I was at one time giving some lectures at Unitarian Church in a place called Ironton, Ohio and I was invited to have a meeting with one Quaker minister and he had many disciples with him. So I was sitting there and I was with one other devotee and he was very straightforward. Right in front of all of his disciples he said I cannot accept the Krsna consciousness movement as being an authorized religion. The reason is because you follow Bhagavad Gita and in Bhagavad Gita Lord Krsna is impelling Arjuna to fight, to kill and to be violent and under no circumstances do we believe that violence is ever to be used. And then he was explaining to me how during the Vietnam war just to show how much against war they are even though they were living in America, they spent tens and thousands of dollars sending a huge, huge ship with food, clothes and other provisions to the Vietcong, where the enemy troops against America, just to make a statement to the world of how much they are against war. How much they are against violence. He said under no circumstance ever should one ever resort to violence. And if Krsna is trying to convince someone to be violent and kill. Therefore we cannot accept His authority, nor can we accept His words. Therefore we don’t accept Bhagavad Gita and if your movement is based on Gita, we have to reject you as a bonafide religion. So we explained to him what a Kshatriya is. Kshatriya in Sanskrit means one who protects the innocent persons from pain. Arjuna was not an aggressor. He was not greedy. He was a protector. He was protecting dharma. He was protecting people from the greater pain of areligion. I explained how Lord Krsna in so many ways tried to resolve this conflict between the Kurus and the Pandavas peacefully, but when there was no other alternative violence was required to create peace and non-violence.
Now one of his disciples was a young girl, actually not above 25, twenty five or younger. So I told them that if I were to, if my friend were to attack this girl disciple of yours to violently have sex with her and the only way you can stop it is by physically controlling this person. Would you do it or would you not do it? If you had to fight with this man to stop him from violating the chastity of your disciple, would you do it or not do it? He said I would not do it. I would never ever, ever break my vow of non violence. And his own disciple looked at him. You would just stand there and watch this person rape me? You would not do anything to help? What kind of a person are you? Some disciple said that to me. And he looked at her and he said we have a very, very high standard of conviction that never ever is violence to be used. And she looked at him and she herself said that would be the greatest violence, to just allow me to be raped. It would be non violent to fight this man and stop him. And everybody in the room looked at him like he was crazy,his own followers. Then we explained that sometimes so called non violence is violence. If you stand by and allow violence to take place, it is violence. But if you have to fight to stop violence to protect an innocent person, to protect the principles of religion, that is the true sense of ahimsa. Bhagavad Gita is teaching the highest standard of ahimsa or non violence.
So we have to understand that ultimately himsa in the ahimsa are not simply based on mundane conditions of morality, but they are based on the will of God. The arrangement of the Lord. Krsna’s arrangement was that Arjuna was to fight. Therefore his fighting was nonviolence on the highest level.
So we do not judge things on the basis of our conditioned conception of what is right and what is wrong. We have to evaluate everything by, “How by the sweet will of the Lord everything is arranged.”
etaj jïänam iti proktam
ajïänaà yad ato ‘nyathä
One who hears from the Acharya knows things as they are. One who does not hear from a Acharya has to constantly speculate, even on the words of the Vedas, to try to figure out what is being said, what is being meant.
A devotee sees through his ears
So this is the great, great danger- mental speculation. To try to observe according to our own condition perception of reality, what is right, what is wrong. We must see everything according to the will of God. Therefore it is said a devotee does not see with his eyes. A devotee sees through his ears. He evaluates everything he perceives in this world according to what he has heard from Guru, Sadhu and Shastra. And he has to perceive reality accordingly. We are not the authorities we have to become the humble servants. We have to inquire submissively in order to understand things as they are. So this is a very, very great teaching of Srimad Bhagvatam in Bhagavad Gita.
Lord is empowering Garuda
Garuda in his magnificent service to the Lord, he was able by the grace of Narayan, to carry the Mandara mountain. Try to understand how the Lord is empowering him. All the demigods, millions of them, and all the most powerful Asuras, millions of them, together in a joint effort could not lift this mountain. And Lord Narayan, he lifted the mountain with one hand effortlessly. But what’s more remarkable than that is Garuda as a servant. For the Lord to lift the mountain we understand, that is very great. But it’s natural, God can do anything. But Garuda is not God. Garuda is the humble servant of the Lord, like you and me. We are all striving to be humble servants. Garuda has strived to be a humble servant. He performed this tapasya at Bhadrikashram to be a humble servant. And see even a greater miracle than lifting the mountain himself is he placed the mountain on his servants back, Garuda. And then he had all the millions of demons and demigods get on the back of Garuda along with the mountain. And Garuda effortlessly flew through the skies and brought that mountain and all the Demi Gods and all the demons on his own back along with Narayan Himself to the Ocean of Milk.
Lord’s pleasure in empowering devotees
The Lord takes greater pleasure in empowering His devotees to do wonderful things than when He does things Himself. In Bhagavad Gita, credit Krsna if He wanted to within a second, in the 11th. chapter He reveals His universal form, He shows Arjuna that with my fiery mouth I can devour the Kuru army within a second, within a moment. A moment is a twelfth of a second. But Arjuna I will take greater pleasure if you do it. If the world can see your glory,if the world can see that out of My love for My devotee, I will empower him. So because Garuda was empowered by the divine mercy of the Lord, he was able to do even greater than the Lord had done. The Lord just picked up the mountain, but Garuda not only did he pick it up but he flew with it for thousands of miles along with millions of demons and Demi Gods. And demons and Demi Gods are not small people like here in India. They are very huge people. Huge powerful warriors. So this is the glory of Garuda. This is the mercy of the Lord upon His devotees.
Why should Krsna empower us?
If we simply surrender to the will of God we become empowered by God. As long as we have the slightest interest separate from that of the Lord, the Lord will not empower us. Why should He empower us? Empowerment means to become the vessel of God. To become the vessel we have to have nothing else in our hearts, nothing else in our minds except the desire to serve. As long as we have any separate interest from the will of God we are not allowing him to utilize us to be His empowered representative in this world. But when we are willing to do anything for this purpose then Krsna can empower us.
Garuda is a pure soul
Try to understand that Garuda in his previous birth he had no desire to be a non vegetarian, he is a pure soul, but in order to accept the position of the bird carrier of Vishnu, he even had to be a non-vegetarian. Right, he didn’t want to do that. From one point of view it’s a lesser level of consciousness than being a vegetarian. Is it not? But if that’s the position the Lord wants me to be in to serve him, then I’ll eat snakes. Then I’ll take a body that likes to eat snakes. And people will even criticize, “aah just see he is even eating snakes.” But the great souls they don’t criticize, they see if he is willing to accept this position because that’s how he could best serve the mission of the Lord.
Lord Brahma accepted humiliation in service
Lord Brahma accepted the position of chasing his own daughter for sex life. Why? Because the Lord wanted to show the world something through this example – how dangerous this sex attraction is whoever you are. So Lord Brahma accepted the most humiliating position possible. His own sons were chastising him. Brahma, what are you doing father you are chasing your own daughter, our own sister everywhere. They did not know what to do. But try to understand. It was not that Brahma was simply lusty like an ordinary man. It was the Lord himself who put that kama within Brahmas heart. He was simply being used as an instrument and Brahma was willing to be used as an instrument. If you want to make me a complete humiliation before even my own children, my dear Lord if that’s what it takes to serve you, that’s how I can best serve your mission I don’t have any separate interest. Brahma’s a pure devotee. Can you imagine the extent of that surrender? Similarly Garuda he is willing to accept that ordinarily among Vaishnava’s a second class position, not a second class, a last class position, eating non vegetarian. But because Vishnu wanted His carrier to be an eagle, he was willing to accept it. My Lord whatever I have to do, whatever you want I’m not concerned, my concern is how can I best serve you. I can best serve you in an eagle’s body, then I’ll eat snakes.
Garuda accepts as lower position to serve
Even human beings, of all animals to eat snakes even the lowest class, they don’t like snakes. But Garuda was willing to take that position if that was the position he had to take to serve the Lord. So Garuda, what an exalted position and because he has no separate interest, he is not concerned with his own pride, his own prestige, after all Garuda is fully learned in all transcendental knowledge. From his wings the Sama Veda, the song of the Sama Veda is being sung. Did you know that. When he flaps his wings the sound is the hymns of the Sama Veda. So he’s very expert in the sciences. So he could have desired, why, I know the Vedas, I am not just an ordinary bird I can be a vegetarian and everyone will think, “God! Just see what a special bird I am, a vegetarian. All the saints will really glorify me.”, “Krsna wants me to be an eagle the way He wants me to be an eagle and He wants me to have these natural propensities and express them.” It wasn’t that his senses were uncontrolled. He understood it was the will of the Lord. And because he was completely sold out in every respect to simply be an instrument in the hands of the Lord of his life, therefore just see how the Lord is empowering him. The Lord is empowering him to do seva, to do service far beyond even what the Lord himself manifested in this lila.
Empowerment is coming through guru
So do we want to be empowered by our Spiritual Master. Spiritual Master is the representative of God. The mercy of Krsna, the empowerment of Krsna is coming through the Guru. So the question is, “Do we want to really help them?” If we want to really help the Guru Maharaj there is only one way to help him and that is to be empowered by him. If we are not empowered, how much help can we give. The more we are empowered the more we can actually do great things for the upliftment of humanity in this service of our spiritual master. That is the Guru’s great desire that we allow him to empower us and how are we empowered, only when we have no separate interest. When we are willing to accept any condition, any situation if it is the divine arrangement of the Lord. This is how we become empowered. We never complain, we never criticize, we never speculate.
tad viddhi praëipätena
upadekñyanti te jïänaà
jïäninas tattva-darçinaù (Bg 4.34)
We simply inquire submissively, “How can I serve best?” and then we render that service. One must approach Guru, enquire submissively and what is the ultimate enquiry, after all other enquiries, “How can I best serve you?” That’s the first stage, inquire submissively, “How can I best serve you?” To say I would like to serve you like this, I will serve you like this, that is not inquire submissively. That is also within the realm of devotional service but it is a lesser stage. One cannot be truly empowered in this. Arjuna was saying Krsna I want to serve you like that, but then Krsna brought him to the platform of inquiring submissively, which is the real beginning of one’s real spiritual life. “Krsna what do you want?”, “How can I best serve you?”, “Guru Maharaj, how can I best serve you.” Then to hear and to act – to do it. That is sevaya. Through this process of surrender we open our hearts to receive the divine empowerment of the previous Acharyas. Through this humble surrender, through accepting the will of God as our will in life, by accepting the will of Guru as our direction in life. No separate interest. Through this process we invite the Lord within our heart, we invite the spiritual master to accept us as his instrument.
St. Francis prayed “ Oh Lord! Divine master! Make me an instrument of your mercy.” This is the prayer of all the great sadhus. Make me an instrument of Your mercy, I am not the enjoyer, I am not the knower. Let me be enjoyed and known by You. Let me be an instrument of Your mercy so that I can assist You in this great mission of compassion within this world. One who prays to the Lord in this way, very soon receives the ultimate blessings of the Lord. We are not concerned with any other position; we simply want to become dear to our spiritual master.